Be wary about career advice podcasts. The people in these podcasts are mostly generalists and their success is based on telling people how to be successful. Seek advice from the people that are doing the thing that you actually want to do. If you want to be a web designer or a tattoo artist then seek out those people. I’m not saying that you won’t gain any value from these podcasts, but they really don’t have the specific knowledge and insight that you need in order for you to move on from that giddy optimism we all get from the self-help racket, to the true exhilaration of getting out there and doing your thing. So take your headphones off every know and then, and start doing some CSS sprites, or putting ink in people’s skin.
I’ve always had a interest in photography. It hasn’t always been a main interest, but like many visual arts like painting and film, I’ve always been an admirer of the craft of photography. It makes sense that designers would be into photography. I still haven’t encountered a graphic designer that is not into photography in some form. Producing images is part of the job of the designer and you’re either going to have to shop around for stock photos or take the photos yourself.
But prior to deciding to study design, what sparked my interest was my wife. She used to take pictures of local rock bands back in the day. Part of the story of how we met was our interest in music and going out to local shows in PR. I remember getting a better understanding that taking a good photo is not a random activity, but something that you can plan out and compose.
I also remember during the mid 2000’s the rise of Flickr. That leveled up my interest by seeing all sorts of styles of photography. I believe that during this period I also purchased my first photography book, Photo Icons: The Story Behind the Pictures. I bought it in the bargain section at Borders (RIP). (By the way, I own a total of two Photography books. The second one is a Textbook simply called Photography.) To be honest I only read half of this book, but the cover picture is probably one of my all time favorite pictures and what sparked my interest in nude photography.
But with all that I never went out and bought a camera. I had different pursuits during the first decade of this millennium. I went through trying out being a musician, to a short stint trying to become non-fiction writer, which ended with my first failed attempt at college going for a Journalism major, to going for the more “practical” pursuit of computer repair and IT Support professional.
I did eventually buy my first camera, and that camera is probably the first camera for millions of people of this generation: It was the iPhone. The 3G to be exact. Shortly after purchasing the iPhone, I think Instagram came out. Coming from the tech world, I’ve always been an early adopter of different sorts web apps and mobile apps. So when I heard about Instagram, I jumped in even though I had no idea what it was for exactly.
You could take a decent picture with the 3G. It was harder to do compared with the iPhone 6 today, but there was decent stuff in the beginning. But I certainly wasn’t taking good ones. Those first few pictures I took were horrible. The first picture I posted to Instagram had the Moon filter, which was probably one of the worst, though Kelvin is just bananas. Who the hell uses Kelvin really? Anyway, I think I did it for a while, but I did what everyone did. Just candid and blurry pictures of everyday life. Photos of feet, photos of your pet, photos of your food, that sort of thing. I had no clue what I was doing and I became inactive for a while.
Serious and more artistic photos started happening around the time the iPhone 4 came out. I believe that Instagram was still an iOS exclusive app at that time. When I got the 4S I started snapping a bit more and emulating and learning from other Instagrammers. I think what made Instagram an instant hit was that early community that just riffed on each other. The #selfie is without a doubt an Instagram phenomenon. But there are also many trends and styles that made Instagram into a cool point and shoot Photography medium. Like the #fromwhereIStand thing, the #puddlegram, and so many more.
I write all this just to give you some context of where I’m coming from and to make the point that I’ve been snapping pictures for a while. I don’t think I’m even near good. But I do think I’ve gotten better. The Photography class I took this semester, combined with some Skillshare classes I’ve been taking, has given me some skills to get closer to good. Buying my first DSLR camera and shooting manually has definitely given me a better understanding on what makes a photo stand out from the rest of them. And I’ve been seeing the feedback on Instagram by getting more likes, comments, and followers. I feels great when that effort you put into making something is noticed and appreciated.
But here comes the point I’ve been slowly striving to. Don’t mistake getting good at Instagram with getting good at taking pictures. For the past 2 months or so, I’ve seen the likes and follower count spike up. I’ve been playing the game. Hashtagging, liking, following people, and use the Iconosquare web app to check out stat's and gauge the growth. It does work, but only to a certain point.
I kind of had to step back and decided to do an experiment. For one whole week I wasn’t going to like any pic, nor hashtag any of my photos. The results weren’t surprising. The likes dropped a bit, but not by a whole lot. I still think hashtags are a great way to catalogue your pics, but you also get a lot “drive by” likers that don’t stick around. I like liking people’s stuff. I genuinely use the like button to acknowledged that I truly like a photo. But that can be perceived the wrong way. Because I myself perceive the “power likers” as douchebag networkers. You can tell. And people need to stop the #likesforlikes thing and the, “Cool photo. Could you check out mine.” comment. Stop that. It does not work. And there’s all sorts of other crazy stuff people do to get the likes. But the the number of likes is a bad barometer of quality. There are users that all they do is post screenshots of their text messages and pictures of internet memes and get hundreds, even thousands of likes.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be strategic, but you should be wary of not falling in to these popularity competitions. Getting the likes is great and all, but if you want to get better at taking a good picture, then really focus on that. Take your time, think long term, and make a gallery that you can look back to that your proud of. In the end the likes don’t matter.
Didn't know much about her other than her Vice piece on Guantanamo Bay she did a while back. She's a super talented artist and writer. Love the advice she gives to young artist starting out. This is her on motivation:
If you need to talk about how to get motivated, then go get a normal job in the normal scheme of the world and just do art as a hobby so you still love it. Stop clogging up the field for the people who need this like a drug.
Really cool project that showcases the often misunderstood differences between lettering and calligraphy.
This 15 minute doc, titled Humans Need Not Apply, is a bit hard to accept. It's not just automation in factories that has been eliminating human jobs, but other kinds of bots, like software bots that write articles, will be replacing human jobs. The future is going to be even weirder than we expected.
The Creative Influence does short documentaries on people in the creative field. For episode 13 they talked to Michael Bierut. He talked about working for Massimo Vignelli, the impact of the internet on design, and what makes logos endure. One thing that struck me in particular was what he said about how the internet has changed things in terms of promotion. In pre-internet days it used to take companies at least a year to see if their message was catching on. Today, if your Youtube video isn't getting enough likes or enough tweets, you start to question what your doing wrong. But to quote:
People's first reaction of things isn't necessarily reliable.
He starts talking about about this particular topic around the 3 minute mark, but the whole doc is treasure throve of design wisdom.
Ultra great record. Notable songs are Rent I Pay, Do You, and They Want My Soul. But the song that really knocked me in the emotional gut is New York Kiss. The song is very 80's but in all the right ways. There's a lot of reverb and delay effects à la the Edge from U2, creating this bitter sweet atmosphere. The song particularly hit me because it reminded of my time in New York City last year. The line in the chorus really put me back there:
I knew your New York kiss
I knew your New York kiss
Now it's another place
A place your memory owns.
The song could be either about heartbreak with a person or with a city. Oh New York, I still haven't gotten over you.
Khoi Vihn takes a look at the stock photography offered today, particularly free options like Unsplash and others:
There is good stuff to be had on all of these sites, especially if you are in the market for photos with shallow depth of field, tastefully toned color palettes, and a preponderance of “authentic” visual textures: antique wood, thick glass, weathered brick, and maybe some flannel here and there. And don’t forget the vintage cameras and modern laptops, which are freely mixed together as if they were the most natural pairing in the world.
There are sites like Startup Stock Photos which as Vihn describes, "[everything] looks like it was either shot inside, nearby, or by an employee of a Brooklyn farm-to-table restaurant." I think it's great that we have these options. The photos on Unsplash, which I have used in many of my school projects, are spectacular, but as you can infer from Vihn's tone, these photos have a particular hipster aesthetic that can become limiting if you're looking for something else.
Logolounge's logo design trend report, which was done in 2013, is still relevant a year later. Some logo styles are more or less trendy today, but I think I've seen the 15 logo types featured pretty much everywhere.
Writer Joel Oliphint writes for Pitchforkmedia about vinyl's resurgence. Apparently more people are buying vinyl records today than ever, at least since the CD-dominating 90's, but has it really come back. The answer is not really:
More and more people are buying vinyl; sales hit a record 6.1 million units in the U.S. last year. But as demand increases, the number of American pressing plants remains relatively fixed. No one is building new presses because, by all accounts, it would be prohibitively expensive. So the industry is limited to the dozen or so plants currently operating in the States. The biggest is Nashville’s United, which operates 22 presses that pump out 30,000 to 40,000 records a day.